Sunday, May 3, 2009

Tank Hill

Tank Hill is a stone’s throw (ok, well, maybe a javelin or discus throw) away from my place. Actually, it’s not a throw away at all, but a short walk (up the Pemberton Stairs to Crown Terrace – turn right, cross Twin Peaks Blvd and there you are).

I’ve pondered the name for some time. I conjure up images of an old WWI tank – but there were no tanks in the City. Batteries were built along the coast with canon to protect the shore, but tanks? In the City?

Was Tank Hill so-named because its shape was tank-like?

Not at all. Once upon a time, a water tank stood atop the hill. The tank was removed in 1957 and back in the 70s, developers coveted this land and of course, wanted to build upon it, but the neighborhood fought back and convinced the city to purchase the land and keep it as open space. Tank Hill has been open space ever since. Despite all its urban decadence, San Francisco is a city that loves open space and provides plenty of it for her residents.

Tank Hill (presumably from the east side) in days of old.

Tank Hill as seen today from the west side.

Tank Hill is never very crowded – most of the time I walk up there, no one’s about. On occasion, early in the morn, I might find a dog with his 2-foot companion out for a foggy morning walk, or on rare occasions, someone meditating. On one afternoon’s walk, a rapper and his film crew were recording on Tank Hill. He rapped with the wind blowing his hair, the city in the background. Alas, I didn’t stop to inquire, so I am left to wonder – if I watch MTV, will I see this fellow? Was he a professional? Amateur?

But what a grand way to start the day: walk up the Pemberton Stairs and over to Tank Hill for a panoramic view of the City, beginning in the east, looking out and over the bay to Oakland and Alameda, over to downtown, and west, toward the Golden Gate, the ocean itself, and closer, a swatch of Golden Gate Park, Cole Valley and the Haight. Sunsets too are beautiful from Tank Hill. You lean against the rock outcrops (radiolarian chert rock – formed eons ago – 130 million years ago actually, on the ocean floor – and here now, 650 feet above sea level, providing comfy nooks and crannies to sit and lean upon, and gaze out over what to me, is one of the most beautiful cities in the world). Leaning against those rocks on the west side of the hill, you watch the sun slowly settle down into the ocean. And as it slowly sinks down, the sky pinks up, and the houses in Cole Valley are awash in shadow and gold, and the tall buildings downtown glimmer with shades of pink and their windows are set afire from the sun’s last rays. If you’ve any forethought, you’ve brought a bit of wine with you to Tank Hill and you can toast the town and bid the sun a good evening. If you’re very adventuresome, you can climb up Tank Hill in the dark and turn east, to watch the moon rise.

But the pics below were taken on a cool April morning, last week.

Crossing Twin Peaks headed to Tank Hill. That’s Mt. Corona with the City behind it.

A cloudy sunrise from Tank Hill

Mt. Corona from Tank Hill

The church spires of 90 year-old St. Ignatius on the University of San Francisco’s campus. You can just make out the top of the Golden Gate Bridge to the far left.

Looking west, out over Cole Valley and The Haight. The green swath to the left is part of Golden Gate Park and to the right, in the distance, you can just make out the twin spires of St. Ignatius.

A closer (but not very close) look at the Golden Gate Bridge

A broader satellite view of Tank Hill and the surrounding area.



  1. i like it...esp. the long view to saint IG. im going to like this new blog. loving your camera arent you? ;-)

  2. My Nikon bit the dust - and I loved that camera, so now I'm using a Sony, but I may be purchasing a new camera - woohoo! - with a more powerful zoom. Can't decide yet between a Canon (or maybe it was an Olympus - gotta check my notes) that also has the capacity for video (can't recall the specific type) or a Nikon P80 or 90 (no video, but easier to handle).

    Any thoughts?

  3. Interesting post, also the one below. it's nice to see what your surroundings look like. it's just so very very different here!It's also quite interesting to see the population desity.

  4. bird,

    these are cool!

    now i want to visit tank hill...

    & laura palmer...

    ¤ ¤ ¤